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Archive for September, 2009

PRODUCT: Original Saratoga Chips

Like potato chips? You’ll love Original Saratoga Chips and the story behind them. Saratoga Chips were the original potato chip—created by an ornery cook in a fit of pique when a diner at the Saratoga Springs, New York resort where he worked sent back his fried potatoes as “too thick.” The cook, George Crum, did an “I’ll give him thin potatoes, all right!” and sliced the potatoes paper-thin, frying them in oil until they were crunchy. But surprise: The customer loved them and as history knows, so did everybody else.

The chips were then marketed as Saratoga Chips and were sold through the 1920s, when brands like Lay’s and Wise and strong regional brands gained ascendancy and Saratoga Chips faded into obscurity. Until now. Two entrepreneurs have revived the brand and carefully researched the recipe and technique. And they’re delicious! Beautiully boxed, they make great gifts as well. There’s even a petite 1.5-ounce size for stocking stuffers or party favors.

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The original potato chip has been reborn, and
it’s delicious. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky |
THE NIBBLE.

 

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TIP OF THE DAY: Simple, Elegant, Healthy!

For a special, flavorful yet low-calorie and healthy appetizer, slice blocks of soft Japanese tofu and sprinkle them with toasted black sesame seeds, soy sauce and nori flakes. For even more flavor, add bonito flakes. Arrange on a large platter and let guests help themselves, or serve individual plates with two slices (the tofu looks especially beautiful on Asian-style dishes). If your regular supermarket doesn’t have an Asian products section, buy nori and bonito flakes at an Asian grocer. As with any condiment, a good brand of soy sauce makes a big difference.

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ENTERTAINING: Cocktails Honoring “The Wizard Of Oz”

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Cocktails for Brains, Heart, Home and
Courage from the Oak Room at the
Plaza Hotel.

Today is the 70th Anniversary of the release of MGM’s classic film, “The Wizard of Oz.” Rent it today or this weekend and invite friends to join you for a trip down the Yellow Brick Road.

The Oak Room at New York City’s Plaza Hotel has created a drink special: shots inspired by the desires of the four lead characters in the movie. Head bartender Orlando Rivera has crafted this delightfully whimsical and potent collection:

  • Brains, a.k.a. the Mind Eraser, a shot of equal parts of vodka, Kahlua and tonic water
  • Heart, a watermelon and yuzu martini shot
  • Courage, a courageously spicy jalapeño-infused tequila shot
  • Home, comfort food in a cocktail, a peanut butter and jelly shot made of vodka, Chambord and Amaretto

 

Your guests will need a designated driver, alas: Outside of Oz, you just can’t click your heels and say “I want to go home.”

 

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Yummy Cupcakes

We’re about to be run out of town. We live in a big cupcake town. Everywhere we turn there are cupcake shops. Yet we turn to ordering ours from the other side of the country—Burbank, to be exact. We send Yummy Cupcakes’ Cupcakes In A Jar as gifts—and we put ourselves at the top of the gift list. We’re in love with Yummy Cupcakes. Anyone you send them to will be in love with you.

Let us explain the concept: A cupcake is not plopped into a jar. Rather, the folks at Yummy Cupcakes, creators of beautiful gourmet cupcakes, took their craft in a new direction. They layer different flavors of cake and buttercream frosting into Mason jars and top them with popular candies—Goobers, M&Ms, Raisinets, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Whoppers and other treats. There are also candies hidden in the layers below. The experience is more fun than regular cupcakes—and that’s saying something.

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Cupcake In A Jar is the best way to eat cupcakes. Photo by GG Merkel | THE NIBBLE.

The cakes and frostings are better than our own recipes—perhaps because Yummy Cupcakes’ bakers are graduates of Le Cordon Bleu. Even when you think certain flavors must be gimmicky, you’re wowed—for example, with the licorice buttercream in the Good & Plenty cupcake and the citrus cake and buttercream in the Sour Patch Kid that are perfectly set off by Sour Patch candies on top.

Yet any notion that these are cupcakes for kids must be dispelled: They’re cupcakes for people who appreciate fine food. How do you eat them? With a spoon!

  • Read the full review, see the photos and get ideas for baking your own yummy cupcakes.
  • See all of our favorite cake reviews and recipes in THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet Cakes Section.
  • Discover all the different types of cake in our Cake Glossary.

 

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TIP OF THE DAY: Kings of Coffee Liqueur

September 29th is National Coffee Day, so celebrate not with an everyday cup of Joe, but with a coffee cocktail. For generations there was Kahlua, an ingredient of the Black Russian and the Mudslide. More recent challengers are Starbucks and Illy liqueurs and the elegant Patrón XO Café, which comes from a small, family-owned distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, home of tequila (the liqueur is tequila-based). All three newcomers are more sophisticated than the old standby. Starbucks liqueur is sweeter, Illy and Patrón liqueurs are espresso-like. Try them straight; or for a Black Russian, mix 1 ounce of coffee liqueur with 1 ounce of vodka and pour over ice. For a Mudslide, shake together 1 ounce each of vodka, coffee liqueur, Irish cream liqueur and light cream and pour over ice in an old-fashioned glass.

  • After your celebratory cocktail, visit our Coffee Section for great articles about coffee, product reviews, recipes, and everything you want to know about coffee terminology and tasting coffee. 

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Gourmet Giveaway: Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

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Dark chocolate lovers rejoice with new
Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.
Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

This week’s Gourmet Giveaway prize sponsor is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which never fail to deliver what they promise: creamy peanut butter encased in rich milk chocolate. It’s hard to fathom how the classic treat could be improved, but it’s definitely been upgraded for those who consider themselves die-hard dark chocolate lovers.

Hershey’s recently re-introduced Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups for those who prefer dark chocolate, and can’t get enough of that smooth peanut butter taste. (The dark peanut butter cups were first introduced in 2003 as a limited-edition item.)

The prizes: Three winners will each receive four two-packs of Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups along with two bags of the dark chocolate miniatures. If you’re concerned about too much candy, you can give the two-packs away and allot yourself two miniatures a day.

  • To enter this week’s Gourmet Giveaway: Visit THE NIBBLE’S Gourmet Chocolate Section and click on the link at the bottom of the page. Enter your email address for the Gourmet Giveaway prize drawing. Good luck!

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CONTEST: $25,000 Grand Prize In French’s 1st Live National Cook-Off

Do you have an original, easy-to-make recipe that makes a great family meal? Then enter it in French’s first-ever Live National Cook-Off and you could win the $25,000 grand prize.

Encourage friends and family to vote for your recipe: In addition to the grand prize of $25,000, weekly prizes will be awarded based on the number of popular votes a recipe receives.

Recipes must include at least one French’s product. You can get inspiration from the recipes on the website. Submit your recipe by October 31, 2009 at www.frenchsfoods.com.

QUICK BURGER TIP: Make your burgers taste better. To 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey, mix:

  • 1/4 cup French’s Classic Worcestershire Sauce or French’s Reduced Sodium Worcestershire Sauce (30 % less sodium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Shape into 4 burgers.
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Garlic & Lemon Herb Marinated Chicken is
made with French’s Spicy Brown Mustard or
Honey Dijon Mustard. The recipe is on the
website.

  • Grill over medium heat for 15 minutes or until cooked through, turning once.
  • Splash on more Worcestershire to taste.

 

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TIP OF THE DAY: Wine Buddies

Instead of giving a friend a bottle of wine as a birthday, congratulatory or holiday gift, take him or her to a wine tasting. Share the experience and the memories, and build your wine knowledge together. If your budget allows, you can add a bottle of wine as a surprise at the end of the tasting. Most cities have regular tasting events and classes. If you don’t know where to find them, ask at wine stores.

 

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RECIPES: Chex-ilicious Party Mixes

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Like things spicy? Try the Deviled Chex Mix.
Photo courtesy of Chex.

Earlier this year, Chex asked America to create the most Chex-ilicious party mixes, and the five finalists are awaiting America’s vote at ChexRecipeContest.com. Go get the five recipes, have a tasting party and cast your vote for:

  • Buffalo Chex Mix, inspired by buffalo wings, includes hot sauce, ranch dressing and celery seed.
  • Chexicago Party Mix, which combines caramel, cheese popcorn and cheese crackers for a sweet-and-salty effect.
  • Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch has pumpkin pie spices and pecan halves, perfect for the holidays.
  • Deviled Chex Mix, a spicy blend of chili powder, coriander, cumin, curry and paprika.
  • Lemon Rosemary Chex Mix, with almonds, is a light and buttery take on Chex Mix
Each recipe takes just 15 minutes to prepare. We’ve been making Chex Mix since high school and while the original is still a favorite, these winners are fun. We’ll certainly be making one of them for the holidays. (That’s the hint to our favorite recipe, although everyone at THE NIBBLE voted for a different recipe.)

 

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TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet & Salty

Most people prefer sweet butter at the table, but there’s a contingent that favors salty. A solution to please everyone: Serve sweet butter and provide a cellar of delicious sea salt. Salt butter lovers can sprinkle a few grains on their butter, and enjoy the superior flavor and crunch of the sea salt over commercial salted butter. In fact, some award-winning salted butters are made by blending creamery butter with sel gris or another fine sea salt, and some top restaurants serve sweet butter with sea salt on top. Be artistic with black or red lava salts.

  • Check out our eye-opening glossary of sea salts.
  • Read about the one salt butter we love: from Vermont Butter & Cheese. It’s perfect—just a touch of salt in an exceptional artisan butter. Butter lovers: It’s worth sending for if you can’t find it locally.

 

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